The International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, Netherlands, believes there is “reasonable basis” that US military members and CIA personnel may have committed “war crimes or torture and related ill-treatment” in Afghanistan. “Members of US armed forces appear to have subjected at least 61 detained persons to torture, cruel treatment, [and] outrages upon personal dignity,” according to a report released Monday by the ICC prosecutor’s office. While most of the alleged incidents occurred in 2003-2004, the report mentions some as recent as December 2014. Alleged abuses in the cases under consideration are not detailed, but the report states that “victims were deliberately subjected to physical and psychological violence” and that “crimes were allegedly committed with particular cruelty and in a manner that debased the basic human dignity of the victims.” Furthermore, the report finds evidence of systematic abuse: “These alleged crimes were not the abuses of a few isolated individuals” but “were committed in furtherance of a policy or policies aimed at eliciting information through … cruel or violent methods which would support US objectives.” The ICC has yet to decide whether to bring charges against US military personnel. While the US is not a member of the ICC, the report makes clear that Afghanistan is a jurisdiction protected by the court, potentially opening the door to bringing US citizens to trial.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.